Other writing in April 2017

Where have I been writing when I haven’t been writing here? If you don’t want to wait for these monthly summaries, subscribe to my weekly newsletter!

Opensource.com

Over on Opensource.com, we had our 7th consecutive million-page-view month. I’m not going to bother mentioning this anymore. I wrote the articles below.

  • Haters gonna hate: 7 ways to deal with criticism – Jason van Gumster and I wrote this Taylor Swift-themed article about dealing with haters when you share your work. One commenter even turned it into a live demo.
  • Creative Commons: 1.2 billion strong and growing – Creative Commons released their annual “State of the Commons” report this week. More and more works use those licenses, and there’s some really interesting projects (like a human skull-shaped 3D-printable candy dish).

Cycle Computing

Meanwhile, I wrote or edited a few things for work, too:

Assorted site updates, plus a newsletter

Have you noticed a cool new logo on Funnel Fiasco lately? Thanks to Susan at Sumy Designs, I have a professional-looking logo instead of the hot garbage I did in MS Paint 10 years ago. I’m pretty pleased by it. To celebrate, I’m also announcing my newsletter. Newsletter Fiasco is my attempt to be like all of my cool friends who have a newsletter. I’ll be sending out out once a week or so with links to stuff I’ve written, stuff I’ve liked, and some thoughts about whatever it is I’m thinking about.

In addition to the logo, there are a few other changes to the site:

Other writing in February 2017

Where have I been writing when I haven’t been writing here?

The Next Platform

I’m freelancing for The Next Platform as a contributing author. Here are the articles I wrote last month:

Opensource.com

Over on Opensource.com, we managed our 5th consecutive million-page-view month, despite the short month. I wrote the articles below.

Also, the 2016 Open Source Yearbook is now available. You can get a free PDF download now or buy the print version at cost. Or you can do both!

Cycle Computing

Meanwhile, I wrote or edited a few things for work, too:

  • HyperXite case study – The HyperXite team used CycleCloud software to run simulations for their hyperloop pod.
  • ALS research case study – A professor at the University of Arizona quickly simulate a million compounds as part of a search for pharmacological treatment for Lou Gerhig’s disease.
  • Transforming enterprise workloads – A brief look at how some of our customers transform their businesses by using cloud computing.
  • LAMMPS scaling on Microsoft Azure – My coworkers did some benchmarking of the InfiniBand interconnect on Microsoft Azure. I just wrote about it.
  • Various ghost-written pieces. I’ll never tell which ones!

Moderators’ Choice Award

As regular readers are aware, I am a Community Moderator for Opensource.com. This involves writing and recruiting content, tending to comments, and the like. On Wednesday, I learned that my fellow moderators selected me to receive this year’s Moderators’ Choice Award.

I struggle to find the words to express how honored I am. The Community Moderator team is incredible, not only in terms of their knowledge and writing ability, but as people. It’s a privilege to be counted among them. That they selected me for recognition is unbelievable. From my perspective, it’s all I can do to keep up.

I know this sounds way overdone, but it is fully sincere. It’s truly a pleasure to work with the team, including the Red Hat staff and the community at large. This is a great way to start the year, and I’m really looking forward to continuing my contributions.

Congratulations to all of the other community award winners this year. The community is what makes the site great.

Other writing in January 2017

Where have I been writing when I haven’t been writing here?

The Next Platform

I’m freelancing for The Next Platform as a contributing author. Here are the articles I wrote last month:

Opensource.com

Over on Opensource.com, we had our fourth consecutive month with a milion-plus page views and set a record with 1,122,064. I wrote the articles below.

Also, the 2016 Open Source Yearbook is now available. You can get a free PDF download now or wait for the print version to become available. Or you can do both!

Cycle Computing

Meanwhile, I wrote or edited a few things for work, too:

  • Use AWS EBS Snapshots to speed instance setup — Staging reference data can be a time-expensive operation. This post describes one way we cut tens of minutes off of time for a cancer research workload.
  • Various ghost-written pieces. I’ll never tell which ones!

Posts not sharing to social media

Once upon a time, I artisinally hand-crafted my social media shares. Then I installed the Jetpack plugin for WordPress which handles publicizing to social media for me. Doing it myself suddenly sounded like a lot of work, so I decided not to. Since then, Jetpack has dutifully shared to Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn whenever I publish a new post.

This has worked out pretty well for me. Most of the meager traffic I get on the day of a new post comes from Twitter, with a few from Google+, and the occasional LinkedIn post. (Don’t you people use RSS readers anymore?) Until earlier this month when suddenly I noticed my new posts weren’t hitting Twitter.

There were no obvious indications about what when wrong, but I did notice that it seemed to roughly coincide with applying a few updates. I started playing around a little bit. All of my posts recently have been scheduled, so I wondered if immediate publication would trigger the publicize feature. Sure enough, it did. (As an aside, at least one person was quick enough to see that tweet and click the link in the brief moment between when I deleted the post and when I deleted the tweet).

Armed with the knowledge that it was only a scheduled post issue, I turned to Google for answers. Pretty quickly I found a WordPress forum thread that seemed to be about the same issue. It had a link to a GitHub pull request for Jetpack that fixed the issue.

Normally, I’d wait for a new release, but this was really hurting my personal brand. So I applied the patch by hand to my install. And that’s how my scheduled posts started hitting social media channels again. If you have a WordPress installation that won’t share, give that patch a try.

I apologize if you missed any of my “terrific” content. It’s all still there for you to read.

My 2016 in review

Well 2016 is over. Looking back on the previous year seems to be the in thing to do around now, and it sure beats coming up with original content, so let’s take a look at the past year.

Between this blog, Opensource.com, and The Next Platform, I published 102 articles in 2016. That doesn’t count blog posts, conference papers, marketing materials, and other things I wrote for work. Writing has certainly claimed a central part of my life, and I like that.

In 2016, I got to see my articles in print (thanks to the Open Source Yearkbook). I started getting paid to contribute (I was even recruited for the role, which is a great stroke to my ego). I presented talks at two conferences, chair sessions at two others (including one where I was the co-chair of the Invited Talks). My writing has given me the opportunity to meet and befriend some really awesome people. And of course, it has helped raised my own profile.

Blog Fiasco

Blog Fiasco had what is probably its best year in 2016. I was able to keep to my Monday/Friday posting schedule for much of the year. Only in May — when I was traveling extensively — did I have an extended stale period. I only published 78 articles here compared to 99 in 2015, but I also have done more writing outside of this blog. With just over 8,000 views in 2016, traffic is up by about 5%. As a matter of contrast, my Opensource.com article on a bill working its way through the New York Senate had more views than all of Blog Fiasco.

Top 10 articles in 2016

These are the top Blog Fiasco articles in 2016

  1. Solving the CUPS “hpcups failed” error
  2. Reading is a basic tool in the living of a good life
  3. When your HP PSC 1200 All-in-One won’t print
  4. Fedora 24 upgrade
  5. Accessing Taleo from Mac or Linux
  6. A wrinkle with writing your resume in Markdown
  7. elementary misses the point
  8. Hints for using HTCondor’s credd and condor_store_cred
  9. Book review: The Visible Ops Handbook
  10. What do you want in a manager?

Top articles published in 2016

Here are the top 10 Blog Fiasco articles that I published in 2016.

  1. Fedora 24 upgrade
  2. Hints for using HTCondor’s credd and condor_store_cred
  3. What do you want in a manager?
  4. Product review: Divoom AuraBox
  5. A culture of overwork
  6. Disappearing WiFi with rt2800pci
  7. mPING and charging for free labor
  8. What3Words as a password generator
  9. My new year’s resolution
  10. left-pad exposed the real problem

So 2017 then?

I’m pleased to see that a few of my troubleshooting articles have had such a long and healthy life. I’m not sure what it means that the article I published on December 30th was the ninth-most viewed article of the year, but it certainly says something. This blog has never really been for anyone’s benefit but my own, as evidenced by the near-zero effort I’ve put into publicizing articles. In part due to having other, audience-established outlets for writing, Blog Fiasco has become a bit of a dumping ground for opinions and articles that don’t really fit on “real” sites. I’m okay with that.

Will I put more effort into promoting content in 2017? We’ll see. I think I’d rather spend that time writing in places that already have visibility. The monthly “where have I been writing when I haven’t been writing here?” posts will make it easy to find my work that doesn’t end up here.

On a personal note

Outside of my writing, 2016 has been a year. Lots of famous people died. Closer to home, it was a year with a lot of ups and downs. My own perception is that it was more down than up, but I think 2017 is heading in the right direction again. I’ll let you know in early 2018.

Professionally, I’ve changed positions. I left an operations management (but really, operations doing-ment) role to do technical marketing and evangelism. It was an unexpected change, but a hard-to-pass-up opportunity. I don’t regret the decision, except that it has changed what I thought my career trajectory was, and I haven’t yet figured out if I want to curve back that way at some point or if I want to continue down this (or another) path. I know better than to make specific plans, but I take comfort in having a vague target in mind.

And then of course, there’s stuff going on in the world at large. I try to avoid politics on this blog, but I’ll take a moment to say that the next few years are shaping up to be “interesting”. I have a lot of concerns about social and environmental protections that may cease to exist. Nationalist movements in the U.S. and Europe are gaining steam. I know that even if things get as bad as some fear, society will eventually recover (depending on what happens with climate change, “eventually” could be pretty long), but I also know that for some people it will really suck.

Whatever 2017 brings, I wish you health, happiness, and success, dear readers.

Other writing in December 2016

Happy new year! Where have I been writing when I haven’t been writing here?

SysAdvent

Once again, SysAdvent was a great success. The large community that has built around this project means I do less than in years past. I want to give others the opportunity to get involved, too. This year I edited one article:

The Next Platform

I’m freelancing for The Next Platform as a contributing author. Here are the articles I wrote last month:

Opensource.com

Over on Opensource.com, we hit the million page view mark for the third consecutive month. I wrote the articles below.

Cycle Computing

Meanwhile, I wrote or edited a few things for work, too:

  • LISA 16 Cloud HPC BoF — I summarized a BoF session at the LISA Conference in Boston.
  • Various ghost-written pieces. I’ll never tell which ones!

Well that’s one way to break a WordPress install

Several of you noticed last week that when I shared a new blog post on social media the link resulted in an HTTP 404 (page not found). I attributed it to the fact that I had written the post before I switched from the WordPress plain link style (e.g. “/?p=123”) to a longer style (“/2016/11/06/sample-post/”) and figured the plugin to publicize it didn’t handle that change correctly. But the link was correct, so what was it?

It turns out to be a security feature. I set the .htaccess file to be read-only. This is generally a good idea, but it caused a problem. When I changed the permalink setting, WordPress wasn’t able to write the necessary changes. As it turned out, WordPress was kind enough to let me know about this, but in a very unobtrusive way.

Below the “Save Changes” button, the WordPress settings page displayed this message:

“If your .htaccess file were writable, we could do this automatically, but it isn’t so these are the mod_rewrite rules you should have in your .htaccess file. Click in the field and press CTRL + a to select all.”

Of course, since it was below the save button, I didn’t even look at it. Only after I broke links to the blog posts in a very public manner did I notice what I had done. I blame myself mostly, but I also blame WordPress a tiny bit. “I can’t actually do what you told me to do” seems to merit a more in-your-face message. Big, red text or a popup dialog would have made it clear that I had more work to do.

But in the end, I was able to fix it quickly. Only two people said they noticed, and it’s not like I have more than a handful of page views on a given day anyway. Plus, I got this blog post out of the ordeal.